God Says, “CHOOSE!” So We Must Be Able To. Right?

Have you ever heard someone say something along the lines of, “Of course we have free will! God tells us to choose & believe in His word!” To them, it logically follows that, if God asks us to do it, then we must be able to. After all, God wouldn’t ask us to do something we can’t do. Right? 

On the surface, this argument may seem like a silver bullet. If you’ve never given thought to this, then such a question might leave you stumped. So let’s think about this. Does it follow that if God asks us to do something, then we must have the capacity to? Actually, no it doesn’t. Let’s look at what Scripture says about the law of God.

The law, given through Moses, is impossible to keep. In fact, the law only gives strength to our sins. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;” (1 Cor. 15:56). When the law is presented to us, we unquestionably stand condemned – dead men without any excuse. “8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” (Romans 7:8-11). [underline for emphasis] And yet, in the law, God is telling us to do or not to do certain things. Only, we can’t do it.

Someone might say, “Well, we may not keep the law perfectly, but we can keep it to a certain degree just as our faith isn’t perfect.”

Firstly, God doesn’t ask for a good college try. He commands the law to be kept perfectly. It would be like saying, “Yeah, the law of the USA says not to kill. I don’t kill every single day… maybe about once every 3 years.” Breaking the law is breaking the law. One murder makes you a murderer. 

Secondly, Scripture tells us that when you break one of God’s laws, you are guilty of breaking the whole law. “10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” (James 2:10-11). [underline for emphasis] 

The Bible is clear that is is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6). With this in mind, let’s see what Scripture says about “natural man” – that is, man “pre-faith”.

6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:6-8)

Those who are in the flesh aren’t said to be ‘neutral’ to God, but hostile. Sure, they may not wake up and curse Christ every morning, but they ultimately want nothing to do with being confronted with their sins and needing Christ to be the propitiation for that sin. They may say they “love God” or “seek truth” but it isn’t the truth of the true God.

Perhaps one of the most confusing of the various free will perspectives is the prevenient grace (or grace before) view. It espouses that it is true that mankind is born dead in trespasses and sins, but the Spirit of God brings everyone to a neutral state to where they then decided whether or not to believe. Unfortunately, for this view, there is not one scrap of explicit teaching pointing us to this. It is a philosophical conclusion that doesn’t have its origins in the bible.

In closing, consider John 6:37-39

37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

What can we gather from these verses?

1. All those who the Father gives to Christ WILL come to Him.

2. Christ WILL NOT cast any of them away.

3. Christ came to do the Father’s will.

4. The Father’s will is that Christ not lose any who come to Him but RAISE them on the last day.

What can we conclude? That if the Father gave Christ everyone, then Christ has failed, because it is just a matter of plain observation that men are constantly dying in their sins.

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4 thoughts on “God Says, “CHOOSE!” So We Must Be Able To. Right?”

  1. Hello Chris, hope you’re doing good…
    The following verse completes what Jesus taught…
    John 6:40
    New International Version (NIV)
    40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

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    1. Elisha,

      thanks, I’m doing well. I hope you are too. This does complete what Jesus taught, but this verse alone doesn’t explain “how” they believe. It just says that those who look to Christ will be raised. The preceding verses tell us exactly how these people come to Christ.

      37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

      The “Everyone who believes” are those that the Father gives to Christ. those that the Father give Him “will” come to him. Jesus reiterates this few verses late in John 6:44-

      “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

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      1. Chris, thanks for the reply. I’m doing well to my brother.
        When Jesus said,
        “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
        I was reminded of the verse that said,
        ” If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.”
        Jesus did die for all. For God shows no partiality whatsoever.
        But this one thing I am sure. Whoever is truly saved will never lose salvation.I was talking to you about it last time. And you had replied but I couldnt reply back.

        I remember you talking about Lazarus and his raising by Jesus, and the comparison with our salvation.
        I see it in a different sense, as in the parable of the Prodigal son.
        He wasnt dead, he was separated,just like we were because of sin.When he realised what he had done, he came back. His Father said,” My son was dead, but now he is alive.”
        Please do correct me if I am wrong.
        But I realised one thing while reading a post by you abot the minister from Westboro. The Gospel preached by Calvinists is the same as that of Arminians. We all have sinned. Sin demands death.Christ died in our place. If we put our trust in Him and believe , we will have eternal life, we become new creations. We are born again, not of ourselves or by works.

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      2. Elisha,

        Glad to hear you are doing well. Jesus does draw all men to Himself. this doesn’t mean that He draws every single individual to Himself. Rather, these are people from every tribe, nation, and tongue as the book of Revelation puts it. After all, there were people living in the world then that lived on other parts of the planet that died never knowing anything about Jesus or His death on the cross. There are those today that die the same way. The language Jesus uses in John 6 isn’t one of potentiality. It is a guarantee. Those the Father has given Christ “WILL” come to Him and Jesus “WILL NOT” cast them out, but “WILL” raise them on the last day.

        I am glad that you believe we can’t lose our salvation. It is given to us by Christ, and nothing can separate us from it. When God tells us that He shows no partiality, it is in the context of Jew and Gentile. The Scriptures are making the point that Jesus isn’t only for the Jews, but all nations. Ironically, if Jesus did die for everyone, and everyone has the ability to come to God if they so wish, then God is showing partiality to those who are humble enough to come to Him. As someone once told me, “God is looking for those who are humble.” And if we believe in free will, then it would mean that the difference between the man in hell and the man who is not in hell, is that the man in hell was more hardheaded than the other. So, God would be showing partiality to the humble. That is why the Arminian doctrine of Conditional Election is heretical – it makes salvation by Grace plus something rather than Grace alone. God would not be showing partiality in electing a people to Himself apart from their works, because there is nothing about them that His election was conditioned upon other than the kind intention of His will.

        You bring up an interesting point about the prodigal. There are a few things to take into account:

        1) We can’t take every part of the parable as trying to convey some meaning. Take the example of Jesus saying that the kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net that you cast out and pull in fish. Obviously, the fish that are caught in that scenerio will be killed, sold, and eaten by others. But we don’t take what He says to mean that. Rather, He is conveying to us our complete inability.

        2) The main focus of the parable of the prodigal is to show us what God is like – He endured much shame on our behalf and grants us mercy. The Pharisees were probably outraged at this story because of how counter-cultural the depiction of this father was. In that culture, which was one of honor, the idea that a father would just let the son do what he did was inconceivable. That son should have immediately been whipped in the middle of the street for all to see. Instead, the Father did what seemed like the dishonorable thing, and let the son go. The son wastes all of the money on loose living, and goes to work among pigs (an unclean animal according to the Jews). Not only that, the kid wanted to eat the pig food. It was as though he himself became a pig.

        The son believed he could work to earn, at the very least, bread from his dad. Then to have the Father still pursue the son after all of that, running to him (which was also a shameful act in that culture), and immediately forgiving him, kissing him all over the head, giving him the ring of authority and killing the fattened calf was probably too much for Jesus’ audience to believe. They were probably thinking, “What kind of father would do this?!” And they’d find themselves on the side of the older brother in the story.

        3) There are two ways I think we should look at the term “dead in sin”. The doctrine of total depravity means that everything about us is effected and polluted with sin. We were once hostile toward God in our natural minds, and were unable to believe the gospel apart from the Spirit granting us faith. We were separated from God in that hostility. We were not reconciled to God. We were sheep who had wandered, until Christ pursued us and brought us back. Saying that we were dead in sin is another way of saying we are separated from God.

        We also know that the wages of sin is death. That is, judgment day before God is pay day. If we have our works to show, then we face death in the lake of fire. If Christ is our mediator, having propitiated God’s wrath on our behalf, then we enter into eternal life. So the language also depicts what awaits those who do not trust Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Imagine that you are in school, and you make a joke to a friend about the school bully, not knowing that the bully heard you. You turn around, and notice that he is listening to you with an angry look, and now he is pounding his fist into his hand. It’s still early in the day, so you will each go to your respective classes, but you know when school is over, he is going to find you. You might turn to your friend and say, “I’m dead.” Now, you don’t mean that you are literally dead at that moment, but know that at the end of the day, this bully is going to rearrange your face. You are using what is called proleptic language. And that is another way to view the “dead” language. They aren’t literally dead, but on their way to death.

        The gospel Calvinists preach have some similarities to Arminianism, but aren’t the same. When we profess what sound like the same confessions, we mean different things. I know that not everyone who is named an Arminian knows what that means exactly. I know not everyone who sits in Arminian churches believes the tenets of Arminianism. I want to know if someone believes that they have broken God’s laws and are totally incapable of saving themselves or securing their salvation. I think what makes Arminianism so dangerous and heretical are two tenets particularly – free will and conditional election. I think the whole Arminian system is wrong and unbiblical, but I find those 2 are the deal breakers for me and why I don’t fellowship with those who hold those views. Now, again, we should find out what they mean when they use these terms instead of assuming they mean what we think they mean. But these two views ultimately add to the work of Christ in order to make salvation work.

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